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Writing Help: Other Words for 'Said'

By Edited Dec 7, 2016 4 11

When creating dialogue, writers (especially new writers) face a variety of challenges: how does this dialogue fit into my story?  Is this too lengthy?  Is he speaking in character?  But one seemingly small challenge can pose a significant problem to those not trained enough to know how to avoid it: use of the word 'said.'  He said this, she said that, pretty soon all sentences of dialogue can begin to seem dreadfully unappealing.  An easy fix is to simply consult a thesaurus for synonyms, but even the thesaurus is not likely to list every potential option.  Likely, it will mention common replacements like 'spoke,' 'replied,' and 'expressed.'  However, the best fit for any given sentence could potentially be left unlisted.  Here I have compiled fifteen great substitutes that are much more interesting and informative than 'said.'

Announced: this is best used when your character is declaring something important or unexpected.

: this could be useful when the character is promising, encouraging, or comforting another character.

Commanded: this is best used when your character assertively or forcefully instructs another character to act in a certain way.

Divulged: this is useful when your character reveals private information, such as gossip.

Insisted: use this if the character is assertively affirming something, or even being pushy.

Mumbled: this is useful when your character is speaking quietly and incoherently. Simple but expressive term.

Noted: this is a great term for when the character is paying specific attention to a detail, either related to the discussion he is having or about his environment.

: this is an expressive term used when the character is desperately begging.

Revealed: this is best used when the character exposes information previously unknown to his audience.

Scolded: use this when your character is verbally reprimanding another character.

Sobbed: use this when the character is very upset, usually uncontrollably crying.

Snapped: this is best used when the character suddenly speaks harshly to another character.

Stammered: this is usually used when your character stutters or is having trouble communicating.

Warned: use this when the character is advising his listener to be careful, or informing him of potential harm.

Whispered: use this when your character speaks very quietly or under his breath.

There are dozens of more synonyms to help get around this problem and improve your creative writing, but I have provided a good platform for getting started. Have fun with it!



Jun 13, 2011 9:32pm
Actually said is what publishers and editors want. The trick is to show what the person is saying. Instead of "Sobbed" Jane wiped the tears on her shirt and sat down. "You just don't love me," she said.
Instead of "warned" Jack leveled the revolver at Shane, cocking the trigger. "Move and your dead," he said.
Some stories use other expressions for said but it's usually better to use it and explain actions with descriptions.
Jun 14, 2011 1:00am
I've read this too. While it's okay to have a few words other than 'said', publishers and editors don't want a different word every time - which, of course, ValerieViolet wasn't suggesting. Interesting article and comments.
Jun 15, 2011 10:44pm
What makes you say publishers/editors want the word "said" rather than other expressions?

I'd think that the type of book and context is relevant when writing dialogue as well as whether it's internal or external dialogue. I agree that writing needs to use action, movement, and description although I think there are times that said is dull and fails to capture the scene.
Jun 15, 2011 10:45pm
Oops - the comment was to brlamc.
I forget IB doesn't thread comments deep enough sometimes!
Jun 13, 2011 9:46pm
That's not always necessarily true, but I appreciate the insight.
Jun 13, 2011 11:32pm
This is a useful article with great tips. I certainly appreciate this as I am just now "learning how to story write effectively". Thank you.
Jun 13, 2011 11:39pm
Excellent article, I can use a few good extra words, I'm running out. Thanks. ('; Thumbs up.
Jun 13, 2011 11:49pm
Valerieviolet, I appreciate you took the time to be a thesaurus for some writers. Nice article.
Jun 14, 2011 6:08am
Nice article, Val. Welcome to Infobarrel and I'm looking forward to reading more articles to come.
Jun 14, 2011 7:42am
I use to love writing short stories and even wrote a couple of romance novels. BUT.... My dialogue killed me. I got so discouraged that I gave up for years Then found article writing which takes that extra pressure out of that.
Good explanation.
. It really is hard to please publishers with correct speach. I was not too politely told that I did not even understand what a sentence was. Which years late I can understand that comment but did not at the time. Keep up the good work
Jun 14, 2011 10:03am
I think you're off to a good start. Welcome to IB.
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